St Philips News for the Parish
27 February 2021
There will be no service in church until further notice – this is because we are all being urged to STAY AT HOME.
BIBLE VERSE FOR THE WEEK Proverbs 14:22
22 Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.
A YEAR OF CORONAVIRUS
The Queen recently spoke for the whole country when she said that many are, “tinged with sadness. Some (are) mourning the loss of those dear to them and other missing friends and family members, distanced for safety. When all they really want … is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand.”
We may have become accustomed to wearing face masks in public, keeping our distance from others, cutting out social gatherings, and attending church services online, but ‘no touching’ seems the cruellest of punishments.
As one vicar friend of mine said, the Church has had to learn a lot from lockdown:
“That Zoom is no substitute for meeting together, sharing warmth, laughter, tears – and drinking from the same cup. We have a commonality in Christ, whoever we are. Christianity is more ‘us’ than ‘me’.
“Also, we cannot ignore those who will bear considerable cost arising from the pandemic. People have lost loved ones, businesses, confidence, jobs. It is vital that the church becomes a place of hope – not glib, cliched words – but solid hope drawn from Scripture and made real in action. The church could become a real hub of the local community.
“But we have to rethink much of what we do and how we say things. The money has all but gone now and the church has to refocus on how it attracts people, what it says in plain English, how it presents itself and provides a warm welcome to those who haven’t a clue what Christianity is…. and all this on a very tight budget!”
He’s got to be right. And some of us could begin to apply some of his ideas right now, even before the pandemic is under control.
As a direct consequence of lockdown, many of us have much more money in the bank than we bargained for. We could send a substantial sum to our local church, and some to an overseas charity, to make some of those ambitions come true. With time on our hands, we could earmark an hour or two for emailing or phoning those in our address book who live alone. We could buy extra supplies for a food bank on our next visit to the supermarket.
And we must ask God to make our church more comprehensible to those who consider themselves outsiders.
The Ven John Barton
Answers to last week’s crossword
- Stop. 3. Call upon. 9. Regular. 10. Octet. 11. Inner. 12. Hudson. 14. Holy Communion. 17. Myself. 19. See to. 22. About. 23. Iterate. 24. Monarchy. 25. Stet.
- Straight. 2. Organ. 4. Abraham’s faith. 5. Lloyd. 6. Puteoli. 7. Note. 8. Cleric. 13. Innocent. 15. Lay down. 16. Ussher. 18. Enter. 20. Enact. 21. Balm.
1 The earth is one (6)
4 ‘On a hill far away stood an old — cross’ (6)
7 ‘I am the — vine and my Father is the gardener’ (John 15:1) (4)
8 The Caesar who was Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1) (8)
9 ‘Your — should be the same as that of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5) (8)
13 Jesus said that no one would put a lighted lamp under this (Luke 8:16) (3)
16 Involvement (1 Corinthians 10:16) (13)
17 Armed conflict (2 Chronicles 15:19) (3)
19 Where the Gaderene pigs were feeding (Mark 5:11) (8)
24 What jeering youths called Elisha on the road to Bethel (2 Kings 2:23) (8)
25 The Venerable — , eighth-century Jarrow ecclesiastical scholar (4)
26 8 Across issued a decree that this should take place (Luke 2:1) (6)
27 Come into prominence (Deuteronomy 13:13) (6)
1 Where some of the seed scattered by the sower fell (Matthew 13:4) (4)
2 Sexually immoral person whom God will judge (Hebrews 13:4) (9)
3 Gospel leaflet (5)
4 Physical state of the boy brought to Jesus for healing (Mark 9:18)
5 Tugs (anag.) (4)
6 To put forth (5)
10 Nationality associated with St Patrick (5)
11 Leader of the descendants of Kohath (1 Chronicles 15:5) (5)
12 ‘After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping — heel’
(Genesis 25:26) (5)
13 At Dothan the Lord struck the Arameans with — at Elisha’srequest
(2 Kings 6:18) (9)
14 ‘Peter, before the cock crows today, you will — three times that you know me’
15 Spit out (Psalm 59:7) (4)
18 ‘When I — , I am still with you’ (Psalm 139:18) (5)
20 Concepts (Acts 17:20) (5)
21 Thyatira’s dealer in purple cloth (Acts 16:14) (5)
22 Does (anag.) (4)
23 The second set of seven cows in Pharaoh’s dream were this
(Genesis 41:19) (4)
2021 WORLD WATCH LIST OF PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS
Here in the UK we may struggle to hold services because of coronavirus, but at least no one in the government is threatening to arrest and imprison us for just being Christians! And yet that is the harsh reality for hundreds of millions of Christians around the world today. This will remind us of the struggle of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Cristian persecution watchdog has warned that more Christians around the world are suffering because of their faith, and the kind of persecution they’re experiencing has intensified.
Open Doors has found that more than 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith, amounting to one in eight worldwide.
Now the charity has released its 2021 World Watch List (WWL) which highlights the top 50 countries that are most hostile toward Christians.
Here are the top ten.
Being discovered as a Christian is a death sentence in North Korea. If you aren’t killed instantly, you will be taken to a labour camp as a political criminal.
ISIS and the Taliban continue to have a strong, violent presence in Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling large regions.
Islam is considered a crucial part of Somali identity, and if any Somali is suspected of having converted to Christianity, they are in great danger. Members of their family, clan or community will harass, intimidate or even kill them. Women may be raped and forcibly married.
There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion and very limited possibility of public church life in Libya. Although there are around 34,500 Christians in the country, only a tiny number (approximately 150) are Libyan – the majority are expatriates and migrant workers.
Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and Islamic extremist groups vehemently “defend” these laws, including attacking or killing those believed to have contravened them.
Government security forces monitor phone calls, scrutinise activity and conduct countless raids which target Christians, seize Christian materials and damage house churches. Christians can be arrested and imprisoned without trial.
Christians in Yemen usually keep their faith secret, because if they are discovered then they could face the death penalty. Leaving Islam is forbidden, and all Yemenis are considered Muslims by the state.
The Iranian government sees the conversion of Muslims to Christianity as an attempt by Western countries to undermine the Islamic rule of Iran. Christians from a Muslim background are persecuted the most, primarily by the government, but also by their families and communities.
More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, Hausa-Fulani Muslim militant herdsmen, ISWAP (an affiliate of ISIS) and other Islamic extremist groups are common in the north and middle belt of the country, and they are becoming more common further south.
Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus, and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam. They use extensive violence to achieve this goal, particularly targeting Christians from a Hindu background.
SPRING HARVEST 2021 GOES ONLINE
Christian festival Spring Harvest has axed its 2021 in-person events, saying it is “no longer viable or responsible” to host the gatherings at their flagship Butlins locations.
Spring Harvest continues to plan for events in 2022. But in the meantime, Spring Harvest Home 2021, the online event which has already been months in the planning, is set to be “bolder and better than ever before”. Spring Harvest will now start online on Easter Sunday evening.
According to Spring Harvest, Butlins will issue refunds to anyone who has already paid a deposit for the 2021 in-person full event.
23rd Feb: Polycarp
– faithful servant who would not deny his Lord
Polycarp (c. 69 – c. 155) was one of the most important Christians in Roman Asia in the mid-2nd century, because of his link between the time of the Apostles and the earliest Christian Fathers. This disciple of John the Apostle became bishop of Smyrna and defended orthodox Christian belief against the heresies of Marcion and Valentinus, the most influential of the Gnostics. Irenaeus of Lyons, who as a boy had known Polycarp, praised his gravity, holiness and majesty of countenance.
Near the end of his long life, Polycarp paid a visit to Rome to discuss with the bishop there the possibility of agreeing a uniform date of celebrating Easter. When they found they could not agree, they amicably agreed to differ, and parted in good faith.
Polycarp returned to Smyrna, where a riot broke out at a pagan festival. The crowd suddenly turned on the Christians, whom they called ‘atheists’. Polycarp was on a farm nearby, neither provoking nor fleeing martyrdom. When his captors arrived, he invited them to eat a meal, while he prayed alone for an hour. Then calmly, he agreed to go with them to his interrogation.
All the pagans’ threats and promises did nothing to shake Polycarp. When ordered to execrate Christ, Polycarp gave this dignified reply: “For 86 years I have been his servant and He has never done me wrong; how can I blaspheme my king who saved me?… I am a Christian: if you wish to study the Christian doctrine, choose a day and you will hear it.”
The crowd were outraged and cried first for the lions and then for Polycarp to be burnt at the stake. He was bound, but an official killed him with his sword before his body was burnt. Later, grieving Christians collected his bones and buried them. They also wrote an account of his trial and martyrdom, which is the earliest authentic example of its kind.
In England there are no ancient and only a few modern churches dedicated to this deeply courageous saint of the Christian Church.
Prayers are requested for the following:
Rod’s younger brother Tom.
Rod’s son Steven.
For Ann Westerman’s brother Bob (in the USA), who has liver cancer.
For Ann and Charlie Westerman – seeking a new church home – that God will guide them to the right place to use their gifts.
Pray for Mignons daughter Andrea suffering with breast cancer.
Wendy’s husband Julian
Chris Foxton’s (Sunday evening congregation) nephew Russell and his wife Rosio.
Barry’s (Sunday evening congregation) brother-in-law Roger and wife Kathleen.
Kathy (Mike’s sister in Leeds) who is awaiting tests for her ongoing health problem.
Len and Chloe
Family and friends of Elanea Maoudis who died on 19th February.
Dave and Amy Barker (Walsgrave Baptist ministers)
Malcolm (Vicar at St Mary’s, Walsgrave) and Frances Tyler (retired).
Brian Nash (Vicar at St Chad’s, Wood End)
George Bennett (Priest at St Patrick’s RC, Potters Green)
Please pray for:
Mike, Marjorie, Mignon, Zena, Ruth, Felicity, Addis and the Oromo people, Beryl, Bill and Celia, Ken,
All our local businesses, that they may survive through this difficult time. Give thanks for all who work in them and their families.
Pray for all the front-line workers who are enabling our lives to progress in these difficult times.